importance of networking leads sales


Most small businesses will have heard of networking and a great number will either attend events as part of their marketing activity or may have done so at some time during their business life.

Let me speak with you as someone who has been in business for 31 years and have taken a business from conception to sale, and who has been networking for probably 28 of those 31 years I was promoting myself and my business through networking events when there was literally one networking organisation out there – now there are hundreds to choose from, and I would strongly advise business owners to explore as many as you can and only join those that you feel will best help your business – and please do not look at any networking event that you attend purely for what you can get out of it. Look at the people and businesses in the room and see if you feel you can use any of their services to help support your business. Please also before you take on any suppliers check their credentials. Don’t just use them because they are part of the networking group, you need to be sure you are getting value for money and the right and experienced support.

Regular attendance is vitally important as this helps to build relationships, trust and respect. Please don’t ever book into an event and just not turn up. It is the quickest way to lose respect from the other attendees. If you cant make it, make sure you let the group leadership team know. I know from experience and running a networking group that if people just don’t turn up without letting me know, then my attitude of that person drop like a stone and massively decreases the chances of me ever using their services. Obviously, there are the odd occasions where you can’t make it and you can’t let anyone know, but this is where strong relationships come into play.

When you attend a networking event, be a participator and not just a spectator. Make sure you get to know – over time – everyone who attends the events you attend. Don’t just rely on their one minute pitch and think you know everything about them based on that as if you went to a monthly event and you heard that person speak for 12 minutes out of the course of a year, how can you possibly know what they do in 12 minutes. Don’t forget that the people who attend the same events as you can also be great promoters of you and your business but how can they be if you don’t conduct yourself in the right way, or don’t attend events, are not reliable, or don’t take time to get to know the other people. Networking is probably more about what you give than what you receive. I have met too many people over the years who go just for what they can get out of it and guess what – most of those are not in business any more.

Don’t ever expect to get business from every event you attend. Acting in the right way will pay dividends but not overnight. Sometimes business comes from the most unexpected ways and more often than not it is not who is in the room but who do they know? When you are communicating with other members – either face to face or via email – please be careful what you say or how you react as a relationship can be broken very easily. It can take a long
time to build a great relationship and seconds to lose one So how important is networking to a small business?

I would say it’s vital but choose the events wisely, choose your suppliers wisely, build strong relationships, be a regular attendee, be a participator and be a giver. This is how you build respect and trust from other members, and relationships that can last a long time.

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